Lack of clear policy threatens offshore wind investment, says East of England Energy Zone chief

Uncertainty over Government policy is holding back potential investment in the offshore wind sector,

Uncertainty over Government policy is holding back potential investment in the offshore wind sector, according to East of England Energy Zone director James Gray. - Credit: Archant

The absence of a clear Government stategy is leaving the offshore wind industry “in limbo”, according to a leading figure within the sector in East Anglia.

James Gray, director of the East of England Energy Zone, a partnership formed to encourage inward investment, said the region was recognised as a globally important location for offshore wind energy, but future investment was at risk as a result of uncertainty over future rounds of “Contracts for Difference” (CfD) price deals.

Mr Gray’s comments followed a meeting between ScottishPower Renwables and representatives from hundreds of companies who gathered to hear about supply chain opportunities in connection with the £2billion East Anglia One wind farm project off the Suffolk coast.

Jonathan Cole, managing director of ScottishPower Renewables, the company behind the development, told the audience: “The East Anglia zone is fantastic and perfectly suited for offshore wind. It is up to us to make the most of that opportunity.”

However, Mr Gray said that, while other potential investors had been sent a strong message why they should look to the East, the current state of Government policy had placed the sector “in limbo”.

“We have always said the East of England is a hugely significant region for global energy, he said. “The geography, deepwater ports and surrounding facilities and land, incentive packages and the robust versatile supply chain with a renowned low-cost-high-quality ethos make it the clear choice for developers across the energy spectrum.”

ScottishPower Renewables was driving down the cost of offshore wind towards Government targets and was looking to develop two further areas within the East Anglia Zone, said Gray.

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It had been expected to look to the next round of CfD, originally scheduled for the end of this year but this had been postponed following the General Election, with Energy Secretary Amber Rudd having this week declined to indicate a new timeline or to confirm that their would be a second round.

“What is most frustrating is the lack of a clear Government policy and backing for the development of offshore wind from Westminster to support the commitment and confidence of the developers and the interest of the investors that we deal with on a regular basis,” added Mr Gray.